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Foreign Horror > Funny Games (1997 & 2007)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 226 comments I’ve watched both versions and must recommend the 1997 original. I give it a slight nod in acting because everything else; set, costumes, props, editing, music (even John Zorn!), and cinematography is duplicated in the American remake.

Michael Haneke has created a film that requires the active participation of the audience and skews our empathy towards the antagonists. This is an intellectual vivisection of the audience, it lays bare our values and judgments forcing us to choose sides during this sadistic drama. But the trick is in making us feel antipathy for the truly innocent victims by rationale: we would never let this happen to our child, we would not be powerless and passive…we would fight back. Once we make that cognitive leap then we’re a participant in the funny games too. But never forget that the game is fixed from the beginning.

This is not a slasher or torture film. This is not a supernatural horror film. It is all too real and disturbing. I dare you to watch.

Here’s my review:

FUNNY GAMES (Michael Haneke, 2007, USA) The MPAA rated this film R for Terror, Violence and Some Language…don’t worry about the Language. This seems to be a shot-by-shot remake of his 1997 film: I suppose he wanted to make the story accessible to American Audiences by casting Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. The plot is fairly basic: two young punks kidnap a family and hold them hostage in their summer cabin. They begin to play sadistic games with these totally innocent victims until the film's rewind anti-climax. Why is this movie sadistic and frustrating when the body count in DARK KNIGHT is hundreds higher? Could it have something to do with us, the audience? There is very little on-screen violence as the camera holds on close-ups while we hear the tortured screams and shotgun blasts. Somehow, this makes the ordeal even worse. There is a trick to FUNNY GAMES and it’s this: Haneke manipulates the audience into victim blaming. Every single person who watches this film exclaims that it would not happen to him or her; they would run away, call for help, or get a weapon and fight back. He even sets up a few scenarios to foster this belief. He wants to incite the audience into an emotional backlash against George and Ann. As the sadism progresses we begin to feel that they somehow deserve what’s coming to them for being so stupid to put themselves in a helpless situation. I speak from professional experience: most people blame crime victims. How many times have I heard, “If she was being raped, why didn’t she scream?” Too many. It’s no mistake that the murderers are young, good looking intelligent young men; Haneke manipulates us into liking them (and here’s the trick) at the victim’s expense. Once we the audience imagine our own heroic actions and escape, we cease to empathize with the true victims and become the sadists. I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. (B)

message 2: by Tera (TheBookishAbyss) (last edited Jul 22, 2008 10:35AM) (new)

Tera (TheBookishAbyss) Alex,

There are comments about Funny Games starting on page four of the "last seen..." thread. Instead of reposting, I'll just point that direction.

I will also say that I never once liked the two boys...I was never fooled by them. They were...oily, of questionable intent right from the start. I never blamed the victims of the story for the tragedy that engulfed them and often when I was trying to put myself in their shoes, I realized that I probably would have made the same mistakes, such as Ann hailing the second car when the first proved not to be their terrorizers. I probably would have done the same. So, while I was busy trying to identify with the family, I deeply resented the fact that I was treated as an accomplice by Paul? when he winks at and addresses the audience...but I also know that this was Haneke's purpose and there is more about that in the other thread.

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